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Nationals 3-2 over Phillies for eighth straight: Stephen Strasburg Ks nine in CBP

Stephen Strasburg struck out a season-high nine batters and the Washington Nationals took the first half of today's doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2. Danny Espinosa and Michael Taylor drove in runs in the Nats' 8th straight win.

Hunter Martin/Getty Images

5. Strasburg in Citizens Bank: Stephen Strasburg returned from the DL with five scoreless innings on the mound against the Atlanta Braves in the nation's capital in which he gave up four hits and a walk while striking out six.

Strasburg threw a total of 94 pitches, 61 of them fastballs which sat between 96-97 mph and went as high as 98.2 mph.

On the year, Washington's 26-year-old right-hander's four-seamer has averaged 95 mph.

"Sometimes you've jut got to take a step back to realize how bad it was, and once I did I was kind of able to get back to what my body was supposed to feel like..." -Stephen Strasburg after return from the DL this week

"It's really no harder than it was before," Nationals' manager Matt WIlliams said after the Nats' 3-1 win over their NL East rivals.

"Sit 95, touch 97-98. He can do that. So, I just think that tonight was a really good step for him. He had no discomfort, which is great and worked through five innings for us."

Strasburg was (3-5) in 10 starts before he was DL'd, with a 6.55 ERA, a 3.96 FIP, 14 walks (2.78 BB/9) and 45 Ks (8.93 K/9) in 45 ⅓ innings pitched. He had a .320/.377/.497 line against in those outings.

During his time off, the '09 no.1 overall pick said he had a revelation about what was going on that caused his issues over the first two months of the season.

An ankle injury in Spring Training led him to compensate and alter his delivery, which resulted in back issues and threw his mechanics out of whack.

"Sometimes you've jut got to take a step back to realize how bad it was," Strasburg explained, "and once I did I was kind of able to get back to what my body was supposed to feel like instead of just trying to mentally grind through it and I feel a lot stronger and feels a lot more consistent now."

In two starts against Philadelphia this season before today's, Strasburg was (1-1) with a 4.91 ERA, three walks (2.45 BB/9) and 10 Ks (8.18 K/9)  in 11 IP over which Phillies' hitters had a .261/.306/.435 line.

Strasburg took the mound this afternoon in Citizens Bank Park in the first game of the Nationals' doubleheader with the Phillies and gave up a one-out single to right by Cesar Hernandez, who lined a 95 mph 2-1 fastball to left, then stole second one out later and took third on a throwing error by Wilson Ramos. A swinging K on a 97 mph 1-2 heater up high to Ryan Howard got Strasburg through a scoreless, 14-pitch first.

Jeff Francoeur got hold of a first-pitch fastball from Strasburg in the first at bat of the second and sent a solo home run soaring out to left to make it 1-0 Phillies. The next three batters went down in order, with Freddy Galvis chasing an 0-2 curve into the dirt to end a 12-pitch frame. 26 total after two.

The third broken bat of the game for Stephen Strasburg got a weak pop to short from Cesar Hernandez for out no.3 of a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 40 pitches total.

Maikel Franco grounded out to third on the first pitch from Strasburg in the bottom of the fourth. Ryan Howard took a backdoor curve for a called strike three and out no.2. Jeff Franoeur hit a one-hop liner to third that Danny Espinosa managed to field in spite of a late, bad bouced, but he skipped a throw to first that Clint Robinson couldn't pick. Cody Asche chased a 96 mph 2-2 fastball up high for out no.3 and Strasburg's 4th K. 14-pitch frame, 54 total after four.

A 2-2 curve got Cameron Rupp swinging. Freddy Galvis K'd swinging at a 1-2 change. Kevin Correia took a 96 mph 1-2 heater for a called strike three and Strasburg's 7th K. 13-pitch frame, 67 total.

Maikel Franco sliced a two-out single to right in the Phillies' half of the sixth, and Strasburg walked Ryan Howard in front of Jeff Francoeur, who lined a 3-1 fastball to center to bring Franco in and make it 3-2. Strasburg "missed" with an 0-1 curve to Cody Asche in the next at bat, but got a groundout to first to end a 29-pitch frame that left him at 96 total.

Strasburg came back out for the seventh and got a fly to right from Cameron Rupp for out no.1. Freddy Galvis took a 3-2 curve outside for a called strike three, out no.2 and Strasburg's season-high 8th K. A 2-2 change to Domonic Brown got Strasburg his 9th K of the game.

Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 113 P, 68 S, 5/2 GO/FO.

4. "Attention and fame, a career, career, Korea, Correia...": The Phillies signed 34-year-old, 13-year veteran right-hander Kevin Correia back on June 8th. Correia was pitching in the San Francisco Giants' system after he opted for free agency when he realized he wasn't going to make the Seattle Mariners' major league roster this Spring.

In six starts at Triple-A Sacramento, he was (0-1) with a 3.58 ERA, a 4.57 FIP, 11 walks (2.63 BB/9) and 25 Ks (5.97 K/9) in 37 ⅔ innings pitched.

In three starts since he joined the Phillies' rotation, the one-time Giant, Padre, Pirate and Twin was (0-1) with a 4.30 ERA, a 5.15 FIP, three walks (1.84 BB/9) and nine Ks (5.52 K/9) in 14 ⅔ IP before today.

In 15 games, seven of them starts, against Montreal/Washington before this afternoon's outing, Correia was (3-4) with a 3.32 ERA, 10 walks (1.58 BB/9) and 36 Ks (5.68 K/9) in 57 innings in which Expos/Nationals' hitters had a combined .270/.307/.438 line.

Correia gave up a two-out, line drive double to right by Bryce Harper in the first, but Wilson Ramos grounded out to second to end a 17-pitch first by the Phillies' starter.

Ian Desmond lined to right for a well-struck out that ended a 15-pitch second which left Correia at 32 total after two.

Michael Taylor lined a single to center to start the third, and took second base when the Phillies failed to tag him after Stephen Strasburg bunted one straight down that allowed catcher Cameron Rupp to pick it up and tag the pitcher. A groundout to second by Denard Span moved Taylor to third, but a groundout to second by Danny Espinosa stranded him there. Nine-pitch frame for Correia, 41 total after three.

Clint Robinson took the first free pass of the game from Correia with two out in the top of the fourth, and Dan Uggla reached on a single up the middle to put two on in front of Ian Desmond, who sent a grounder to short that loaded the bases when Maikel Franco failed to find the bag with his foot when Freddy Galvis threw to third. Michael Taylor K'd swinging at a 2-2 curve, however, ending a 20-pitch frame that left Correia at 61 total.

Denard Span doubled to right with one out in the fifth and took third on an error by Jeff Francoeur before scoring on a sac fly to left by Danny Espinosa, 1-1. Bryce Harper took a two-out walk, but was stranded at the end of a 17-pitch fifth. 78 total for Correia after five.

Clint Robinson walked and Dan Uggla singled to put two on with no one out for Ian Desmond in the sixth. Desmond sent a flyout to center, butMichael Taylor worked the count full in the next at bat and lined an RBI double to left field to bring Robinson in, make it 2-1 Nationals and end Correia's day.

Kevin Correia's Line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 95 P, 58 S, 7/3 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: During the Nationals' season-high seven-game win streak, they've hit .307 as a team in spite of the injuries which have led to them fielding some makeshift lineups.

• Over the course of their seven-game win streak, Nationals' starters have allowed three earned runs in 51 ⅓ innings, good for a 0.53 ERA.

• In their last thirteen games, after a rough start to the month, the Nationals have gone 10-3 and outscored opponents 67-29 and outhit them 129-98.

• After today's doubleheader the Nationals and Phillies won't face each other until September when they wrap up their season series with six games. Through eleven games before today's doubleheader the Nationals held a 7-4 advantage over their NL East rivals this season, outscoring them 38-32 thus far.

• When he's been given three runs or more while in the game, Stephen Strasburg was 47-7 before today's start. If he had enough innings pitched this season, Strasburg's .388 BABIP against would be the highest among major league starters.

• Dan Uggla entered today's game 6 for 19 (.316 AVG) with two doubles and four walks vs Kevin Correia in their respective careers.

• Denard Span had a streak of 18-straight games in which he's reached bases going when he stepped in against the Phillies today. He has a .293 AVG (22 for 75) and nine walks over that stretch, in which he's posted a .369 OBP.

2. Turning Point(s): A first-pitch fastball to Jeff Francoeur in the second ended up about 20 rows back in left as the Phillies jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the first game of today's true doubleheader. Francoeur's 5th home run of 2015 was his first hit of any kind off in six career at bats vs Stephen Strasburg.

• Frenchy giveth and Frenchy taketh away, however. Denard Span lined a one-out double to right in the the top of the fifth and took third on an error by Francoeur before scoring on a sac fly to left by Danny Espinosa that tied things up at 1-1.

• Leadoff walks rarely come back to hurt pitchers, but the one Kevin Correia issued to Clint Robinson in the sixth did actually hurt the Phillies' starter. Dan Uggla singled in the next at bat, and one out later Michael Taylor hit an RBI double to left that brought Robinson in for a 2-1 lead. 3-1 after five and a half when Uggla scores on a wild pitch from Jake Diekman.

• The Phillies rallied with two out in the sixth, with Maikel Franco fighting off a fastball for a single, Ryan Howard taking a walk and Jeff Francoeur lining an RBI single to center to make it a one-run game in the Nationals' favor, 3-2.

1. The Wrap-Up: Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez inherited a two-on, one-out jam from Kevin Correia in the sixth, and got a grounder to second from Stephen Strasburg for the second out of the frame. Jake Diekman came on to face Denard Span and walked him to load the bases for Danny Espinosa, before throwing a wild pitch that allowed Dan Uggla to score, 3-1 Nats after five and a half.

With the score 3-2 Nationals, Diekman came back out for another inning of work in the seventh and issued a one-out walk to Wilson Ramos. Tyler Moore came on to hit for Clint Robinson vs the left-handed reliever but K'd looking at a 97 mph 1-2 fastball inside. Dan Uggla singled with two down, but Luis Garcia came on for Diekman and popped Ian Desmond up to end the Nats' seventh. Still 3-2.

Michael Taylor reached on an error by Ryan Howard at first in the top of the eighth, but three outs later he was left at second when Bryce Harper K'd chasing a slider into the dirt. Still 3-2 Nats.

Matt Thornton struck Ben Revere out with a 1-2 slider for the first out of the Phillies' eighth. David Carpenter came on next and gave up a single to left by Cesar Hernandez, who stole second base one out later to put himself in scoring position with Ryan Howard up, but was stranded when Howard K'd swinging through a 96 mph full-count slider.

Justin De Fratus threw a quick, scoreless top of the ninth.

Drew Storen came on looking for save no.23 of 2015 and retired the side in order. Ballgame. 3-2 final. Eight straight.

Nationals now 42-33